I am making a “festival meal” for one of Jan’s Chinese students with a roasted chicken. Mashed potatoes and gravy is a “must” side dish. For Thanksgiving I made these potatoes with turkey gravy, here I am making it with chicken gravy.
When making Western dishes for Chinese guests, it is good to remember that most Chinese are lactose intolerant. When you can you should substitute lactose-free milk for regular milk or cream. If a recipe will not work without the cream you should have some Lactaid on hand for their convenience.
Note: This is very similar to our time in China, when we had to be careful about MSG (味精: wèijīng). We frequently had a hard time convincing friends and restaurants that many Westerners are allergic to MSG. “How can you not like ‘flavor powder’?!!”
When I made my chicken stock, I had the overcooked celery and carrots as part of the remaining “solids” to be discarded. I hate wasting food. I picked the biggest pieces of vegetables out of the bones—and any remaining bits of meat—pureed them, and pushed them through a sieve to add the gravy.
Karl’s Mashed Potatoes with Chives and Chicken Gravy
3 large Russet potatoes, coarsely chopped
3 Tbs. butter
½ cup half-and-half (or lactose free milk)
3+ Tbs. chives, sliced finely
Pepper and salt, to taste
1½ -2 cups Karl’s chicken stock
½ cup pureed chicken stock vegetables (optional)
¼ cup AP flour
½ cup milk (lactose-free optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Peel and chop potatoes and leave soaking in cold water until 30 minutes before the meal.
2. Thirty minutes before the meal, set the potatoes to boil and cook until tender, about 15-20 minutes.
3. While the potatoes are boiling, put the chicken stock—and pureed vegetables—in a medium pot and bring them to a boil.
4. Put the flour in a small lidded jar and add the milk.
5. Seal and shake the jar well, until the flour is thoroughly mixed into the milk.
6. Remove the pot from the heat and pour the flour mixture through a sieve into the simmering stock.
Tip: Stir the flour mixture in and return the pot to the heat.
Note: Sometimes lumps of flour will form when you do not shake your jar enough. If you pour the mixture directly into the stock these lumps of flour will turn into tiny dumplings—i.e. lumpy gravy.
7. Continue simmering the gravy, stirring frequently, until it reaches your preferred thickness.
Tip: If the gravy does not thicken enough add more milk and flour.
Note: Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste, if necessary.
8. Just before the meal, drain potatoes and use a potato ricer to mash the potatoes.
Tip: A potato-ricer looks like a giant garlic press.
Note: For creamy, lump-free, mashed potatoes a ricer is essential. They were popular in my mother’s say, but when I went looking for one for myself they had gone out of fashion. I finally found one in an antique store. With the whole “foodie” movement they have come back into fashion. Many that you will find now have large ¼ inch square holes—called a potato masher, if you want smooth potatoes do not buy that type. You want one with no larger than ⅛ inch round holes—about the diameter of a cooked grain of rice.
9. Add the cream, chives and salt and pepper to the riced potatoes.
Tip: Reserve a few chives to use as garnish.
10. Use a wire whisk to whip and mix the potatoes
Tip: Do not overwork the potatoes. You want them mixed, but the potatoes can turn glue-y if they are stirred too much.
11. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl.
Tip: (Optional) Garnish the potatoes with more chives.
12. Transfer the gravy to a gravy boat.
13. Serve both warm and immediately.